Synopsis (From Amazon)
Graceling [by Kristin Cashhore] tells the story of the vulnerable-yet-strong Katsa, who is smart and beautiful and lives in the Seven Kingdoms where selected people are born with a Grace, a special talent that can be anything at all. Katsa’s Grace is killing. As the king’s niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his brutal enforcer. Until the day she meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, and Katsa’s life begins to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
A female assassin in a fantasy setting? Sign me up! I was so excited to read this book but unfortunately it did not meet my expectation. The premise is incredible: some people are born with eyes of different color which indicate they are graced with an unnatural ability. The main character, Katsa, is graced with the skill to kill. Her uncle, the King, uses her to enforce his will in vicious ways but to make amends, Katsa runs a secret “Council” that fights the evil rule prevalent throughout the seven kingdoms.
For such a fantastic concept, the book has no plot to support it. The Council never really plays a part; there is not a significant challenge or puzzle Katsa must overcome. She meets a prince who obviously is more than he seems, falls for him, predictably eventually stands up to her Uncle, and then rescues a young princess. That’s about it. None of the major plot points really thread together well and I predicted all of the “twists” except for the last one.
Along with premise, I do give the author credit for staying true to her characters. It would have been so easy and perhaps expected to have the characters end in a different way. Instead, Kristin Cashore stays true to Katsa’s character and gives her the nontraditional, though fitting conclusion. Brava to Kristin for taking the brave path.
Graceling was a fine read but it’s not one I see myself ever going back to again.